A few heart-stopping moments were witnessed before celebrations broke out in the Mission Control Room here on Monday, as the telemetry link was lost in the final seconds when the Advanced Air Defence (AAD) interceptor missile hit the target missile (a modified Prithvi).

Anxious wait

Confusion reigned for a while over the success of the mission. There was stunned silence and an anxious wait to know the exact outcome.

As the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientists scrambled to look for the emerging data from radars, it became clear that the interceptor had indeed ambushed and pulverised the modified Prithvi in its terminal phase.

Applause

Immediately there was applause and congratulatory exchanges and the mood turned euphoric.

Addressing the scientists and others involved in the mission soon after, Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister V.K. Saraswat said, “This is the real Ballistic Missile Defence system”.

The BMD system will be fielded in operational mode after a few more trials, including the demonstration of an integrated interception in endo-atmosphere and exo-atmosphere.

‘A milestone'

Avinash Chander, Director, Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL), and chairman of the Flight Readiness Review Committee of the AAD mission, termed the success a ‘milestone' as the interceptor was equipped with directional warhead and radion-proximity fuse.

Chief Controller of R&D (missiles and low intensity conflict) K. Sekhar, Programme Director, AAD, V.L.Narasimha Rao and Vice-Chief of the Air Staff P.K. Barbora addressed the gathering.

Monday's endo-atmospheric interception was the fourth successful interceptor test conducted by the DRDO scientists since November 26, 2006.

Earlier, two interceptions were achieved in exo-atmosphere at altitudes of 48 km and 80 km and one in endo-atmosphere at an altitude of 15 km.